A personal post this, on the sixth anniversary of my dear friend David Fleming’s death. A mournful day, but also one of great satisfaction, as his incredible books finally spread their wings and find the audience his genius always deserved.
Ten years on from our first meeting, on the Schumacher College course that utterly reshaped my decade since, and six years on from his death, I carry simply this immense gratitude for all that David was in my life and in our world.
What I wouldn’t give for one more side-splitting, enlightening conversation. And what an absolute honour to have been invited to teach a week’s course on his work at Schumacher College in February, a decade on, with fellow friends like Rob Hopkins, Mark Boyle and Stephan Harding alongside. May its ripples spread as far as its ancestor’s, which also gave birth to the Transition Towns Network.
At the top of this post I release footage of Jonathon Porritt discussing David Fleming’s legacy at Oxford University. And I hope David will forgive me and Schumacher College for having unearthed his below slightly nervous, rather endearing, rather brilliant public talk from the week of that course (immortalised in Rob’s foreword to Surviving the Future). Rest well, dear man.
In it, Fleming examines the consequences of an economy that destroys the very foundations—ecological, economic, and cultural—upon which it is built. But his core focus is on what could follow its inevitable demise: his compelling, grounded vision for a cohesive society that provides a satisfying, culturally-rich context for lives well lived, in an economy not reliant on the impossible promise of eternal economic growth. A society worth living in. Worth fighting for. Worth contributing to.
On the eve of the #Brexit referendum, I have found myself struck by the juxtaposition of two exceptional pieces of writing which run somewhat deeper than the ‘lowest common denominator’ debate running in the mainstream media.
It wasn’t immediately clear to me which way I would vote, but reading these nuanced pieces – which draw out sensible reasons for considering both sides of the argument – helped me to make a decision.
The first is this piece by Giles Fraser in The Guardian. I believe Fraser has declared that he will vote ‘Out’, yet unlike many ‘Brexiteers’ his piece makes a crucial argument in favour of free movement for people: Read more »
I believe that a beautiful way to honour those we love after their death is to keep alive in the world that which was best in them. In David’s case, there was no clearer way to do so than to see his masterwork Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It reach the audience that deserves it.
As Rob Hopkins and Jonathon Porritt explain in their forewords (yet to be released), it is a book that has been hugely influential even before its publication!
The copy-edited manuscript is now with the publishers ahead of its summer release, but I thought I would mark today by sharing the new cover design (I love it!) and my introductory preface:
I am currently hunkered down working on a project close to my heart, editing my late friend and colleague Dr. David Fleming‘s incredible life’s work Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It, for its publication by Chelsea Green later this year.
Lately we’ve seen the president of the World Bank and ‘business leaders from the very carbon-intensive industries’ pushing for carbon pricing (taxes or ‘carbon trading’ schemes). This is intended to demonstrate their deep change of heart and determination to start seriously addressing climate change, but to my eyes it is a deeply cynical, pernicious attempt to channel the passion of those deeply-committed to action on climate change into mechanisms that will only maintain the suicidal status quo.
Which is why I poured all my experience of ten years’ work on the topic into this peer-reviewed academic paper, which I believe demolishes the case for carbon taxes or carbon trading schemes as the way forward, and shows a clear, well-researched alternative (though it took almost as much effort as writing my book!). Read more »
Last month I was one of forty or so attendees of the Transition ‘Peak Money’ day. It was a fascinating collection of people, from theorists to activists, and a potent opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing us all as the glaring errors at the heart of mainstream economics take their toll. This post is far more personal reflection than report, as Rob Hopkins has already done a great job on that front.
The key theme that seemed to run throughout the day, then, was ‘collapse’. Sadly, I was an hour late to the event, but the first sessions I witnessed were reports from Transitioners in Portugal, Ireland and Greece on the ‘front line’ impacts of the economic crunch. The talk was of collapse having already happened for many families and communities there, with statistics quoted including an 89% increase in Greek unemployment in three years, and Irish suicides having doubled since 2007.
They pulled no punches. Most of us were left grey and shaken as the harsh realities of the crisis were relayed. For me, a defining memory of the day was watching the alternative economists listening to this – people who have spent decades warning of these outcomes and trying to head them off – their heads shaking sadly with lips pursed, hands involuntarily coming to their faces in dismay as their Cassandra curse unfolds. Of course, the statistics were not new to them, but hearing these stories in person somehow always brings a heavier human impact. Watching that impact reflected in their expressions felt almost inappropriate, yet doubly powerful.